Author Archives: smwright

About smwright

I am graduate from Purdue University, where I majored in professional writing and minored in both history and German. Currently, I work as a staff writer and copy editor. I have a passion for both writing and history, combining them in any manner that I can. Right now, I am currently working on a fantasy novel called Passage

Beta Reading Process Part 2: Writers vs. Readers

Diving further into the beta reading process, this time around we’re going to explore the readers themselves. Who makes the better beta reader, fellow writers or straight-up readers? Well, I’m afraid there will be no concrete answer to this question; however, I will share my own observations, because these two groups did bring different input to the table during the beta process.

For starters, I had three fellow writers (two who finished) and four readers — a good mix all said and done, and I highly recommend a good mix between the lot.  In particular, I noticed that the straight-up readers tended to finish the manuscript faster; two were scary fast and have already been sniffing around for the sequel (I need to get on that). Readers brought up some great points up, some of which were shared by the writers, but for the most part were very light on their comments and not as critical. I like to say they rolled with the punches. They were patient and waited until the end to draw conclusions, much like one would do with a published novel — to a point. Continue reading

Categories: Writing Articles | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Writing, waiting for a diagnosis and Grant

I don’t have a diagnosis. I just have a swelling thyroid that has nodules. And it sucks.

My doctor for the past few years has always commented on my thyroid, that it looked big to her. Blood work, however, has always come back stellar and I’d felt normal. Then this last time (this past April) in addition to blood work, she wanted an ultrasound. I heehawed about the ultrasound, thinking largely of the expense, but then my thyroid did something it hadn’t done before — it swelled. Suddenly, I’m having trouble sipping from a straw; of course, panic probably didn’t help.

I instantly scheduled the ultrasound, but couldn’t get in until after a work trip to Tampa, FL  — joy, right? So here, I was waiting and dreading. Continue reading

Categories: Personal | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

“Sisters” — A short romp through history

 

If you are looking for a short read, I highly recommend that you head over to Amazon quickly! Rachelle M.N. Shaw’s latest short story is free, and as my dad says (and he always does say it), nothing is better than free. To top it off, it’s a quality character-driven piece that focuses on the relationship of two sisters. I don’t want to say too much; however, those with siblings will likely relate to the challenges of growing up together and the morphing of the blood ties that always tie you to each other.

The free deal will be running through until tomorrow at midnight — so don’t turn into a pumpkin by passing up on this opportunity! And for those who use GoodReads (I don’t use it half as much as I should), you can reach the book via the following link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35219698-sisters.

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beta Readers, A Method

Beta readers provide feedback prior to querying or before self-publishing. They often provide invaluable pointers regarding a manuscript, though some might also be slackers. It happens.

Currently, I’m wrapping up additional revisions to my sci-fi novel, Heritage Lost. This has been a long ongoing project that undoubtedly, if you routinely follow my blog, you’ve read about and might be wondering “How long is she going to ticker with it?” Well, after continuing to hit a brick wall in querying process, I dialed back and decided to complete a portion of the writing process that most writers complete: aka the beta reader process.

I skipped over this not because I hadn’t seen any value to the process, but due to some personal hang-ups (I’d been burned once) and my alpha readers had all been extremely positive. However, when I received a string of basic form letter rejections, I decided I needed more eyes on it — specifically reader eyes. My alternative motive was I’m deeply considering self-publishing. It is still my goal to query more agents and a couple of publishers that accept unsolicited manuscripts, but I’m also viewing self-publishing as more viable, and I wanted an idea of how my book might be received by a variety of readers.

So I embarked on the beta reading process and gleaned quite a bit from the experience, with some readers confirming some of the concerns I harbored on a few points after my last read-through. I also learned a lot about the beta reading process, and what I’d do differently next time. Continue reading

Categories: Writing Articles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Protecting Yourself

Free can come with a huge price. Are you willing to pay in the five figures?

Copyright is a challenging topic if you don’t have a law degree and haven’t studied up on it. Lord knows I am no expert myself, so I try to use as many of my own photos/graphics and public domain photos as possible on this blog — with a few exceptions that I feel fall under fair use (I could be wrong). I have also used “free” stock photos from MorgueFile.com. But how free are these  stock photos?

Well, you might notice that several photos have disappeared from this blog. It is a precautionary measure after reading Allison Puryear’s post, “I Got Sued (For Something You’ve Done!)” … It chilled me to the core. While MorgueFile is a legit website, a photographer could upload a photo after its been copyright and then collect huge bucks from an unsuspecting blogger, etc. — and it is completely legal.

Read Puryear’s article and stay safe on the internet! If you are in doubt when it comes to something being copyrighted, it might be best to pass that image/graphic by in favor of your own creation. One other protection to take when downloading free stock photos, or even purchasing them, is to screenshot the screen as you are doing so and keep all receipts.

Categories: Writing Articles | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gen Con Recap #1: Structuring Life for Creativity

wp-1471209674208.jpg

One of the best seminars I had attended during Gen Con 2016 was Structuring Life for Creativity, which was presented by Sandra Tayler. It is a subject that I think a lot of writers struggle with; after all, we are all busy. Sometimes, our creative selves and our writing take second fiddle to life’s craziness. I have struggled between work (where I write and edit all daylong), freelance editing, my own personal writing and editing, social life, and leisure. I had good practices in place throughout high school, college, and even working in retail. But recently in my adult life, I’ve been struggling to create, so Tayler’s presentation really struck a chord.

Since attending her session, I have been writing regularly again, except recently … but it is a secret project that taps into another creative side of myself. I walked away completely refreshed and want to share some of my key takeaways from Tayler’s seminar:

Continue reading

Categories: Writing Articles | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Post-Gen Con 2016: Reexamining Writing Goals

wp-1471209674208.jpg

My Gen Con 2016 badge and Writer’s Symposium program.

The Gen Con Writer’s Symposium was amazing. I walked away completely refreshed and with a bumper crop of information and ideas. I cannot recommend enough finding and attending similar events to get the latest information about what is going on in the publishing industry or just to get inspired to take your craft to the next level. The Gen Con Writer’s Symposium stretched from Thursday through Sunday (Aug. 4-7) and offered more than 200 hours of programming and events. There was also a Writer’s Avenue in the main vendor hall; however, since my day was packed with seminars, I missed the opportunity to visit and mingle with fellow writers in addition to agents and editors from some of the main publishing house. Next year I will be better prepared and make sure I leave plenty of time to visit that avenue because valuable connections can be made doing that as was pointed out during one of the seminars I attended.

Writers wait to begin their next seminars at the Westin in Indy during Gen Con 2016.

Writers wait to begin their next seminars at the Westin in Indy during Gen Con 2016.

In all I attended eight and a half hours worth of seminars on Saturday, Aug. 6. I say half because I was allowed into Eric Flint’s “Business of Writing: Understanding the Publishing Industry” half way through its start. The bulk of the seminars I attended were Business of Writing related since that is where I currently am in my own creative writing career. I did– for which I’m extremely grateful for–work in a couple Writer’s Craft sessions and one Writer’s Life seminar, which was invaluable.

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some of the highlights from the Gen Con seminars I attended. The first, which I hope to have up this Friday, will be from “Writer’s Life: Structuring Life to Support Creativity.” I have been struggling with balancing life, energy, and my need to be creative, so this one was a session I truly needed. I know many other writers also struggle with carving out time to write, so hopefully, they too will be able to glean something from the session’s highlights.

Since attending “Structuring Life,” I have been steadily been making progress on Heritage Lost‘s sequel, and I feel in a better place in my creative life, even if I still need to continue training my brain, but all in good time!

Perhaps my greatest take away is I’m halting my agent hunt, except for one particular agent that I have in mind. Instead, I will do yet another read-through of Heritage Lost before directly querying publishing houses that allow unsolicited manuscripts. All of the panelists (and they included writers, editors from publishing houses, and an agent) over several seminars agreed new writers were more likely to be published through the slush pile than through an agent. It is important to note they all stressed there is no one way to publishing; however, directly approaching publishing houses had been my original path. I diverted from it when I kept getting advice that I needed to get an agent first, so I caved.

Additionally, in a month or two, I will probably have exciting news about another venture that I’m hoping to see launch in October, but I want to make sure all of my ducks are in a row before I share anymore on that. Until then, I’m excited to share some of what I learned at Gen Con!

Categories: My Writing, Personal, Writing Articles | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Check Out ‘The Ballerina’s Gift’

"The Ballerina's Gift" by Rachelle M. N. Shaw cover

“The Ballerina’s Gift” by Rachelle M. N. Shaw

If you love paranormal fiction with a horror edge, be sure to get a copy of The Ballerina’s Gift by Rachelle M.N. Shaw, which was recently released electronically via Amazon. It is the second story in The Porcelain Souls series; however, readers can download the first short story in the series, The Eyes That Moved, for free (also available at Smashwords)! And let me say, if you have ever found porcelain dolls to be creepy, your skin is about to crawl. I don’t want to say too much  so  as not to spoil anything; however, Rachelle has crafted an exceedingly fun story with interesting characters while building in elements of horror, the paranormal, and suspense — and I’m not just saying that because I am her friend and editor.

The Ballerina’s Gift is novella length and has a larger cast of characters than its predecessor, though not to the point of being overwhelming. Marley — the lead — is relateable, particularly for those who remember teenage drama and nastiness, and likable. Another character that draws attention is Huili, who I can’t wait to see more of in the future.

The story itself follows Marley as she attempts to inch her way up the social ladder by hosting a party while her parentals are away. Throw in her long-time crush, her nemesis, a whirlwind of rumors, and the supposedly haunted Whitson house and things are bound to spiral out of control. More may be at stake than Marley’s reputation.

To learn more about the novella, The Porcelain Souls series, and Rachelle, visit her website at http://rachellemnshaw.com/porcelainsouls/.

Categories: Books, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Counting Down To GenCon

The weekend is almost here and I can’t wait! This Friday I will be attending another Next Indiana Campfires event, which marries literature, nature and the Indiana Bicentennial. Then on Saturday, I get to go to GenCon in Indianapolis!

I made it to the Next Indiana Campfires event in my home community, which was hosted by the Syracuse-Wawasee Trail, and enjoyed a roughly 5-mile hike around Syracuse Lake, drinking in nature and several piece of poetry from Indiana poets. I also had the good fortune of meeting Indiana’s current poet laureate, Shari Wagner, who was the facilitator for that event.

I enjoyed the event so much that when I saw they were hosting a walk in Prophetstown State Park near my alma mater, I had to sign up. Along the way, I enlisted my brother and sister-in-law to join me — the more the merrier, right? Once again, Wagner will be the facilitator, but I’m hopeful that she will have a brand-new selection of poems to go with the landscape of Prophetstown. Another perk to this particular excursion? Two words: campfire dinner! Yum!

Somehow, we (my brother, sister-in-law and myself) will then be getting up early to head on over to Indy and GenCon. While they hit up the games, I will be attending seven writing seminars: The Pros & Cons of Electronic and Self-publishing; Inside Publishing; The Role of Agents; Representing Unconscious Character Motivation; Structuring Life to Support Creativity; Selling Your Stories to the World; and Maintaining Mystery Without Losing Your Audience. Needless to say, I’m super excited. I had made room for personal development in my writing business plan for 2017, so I am getting a head start, but the opportunity just fell into place. Stay tuned because I plan to share what I learn!

Is anyone else heading to GenCon and planning to attend some of the writer seminars?

Categories: Personal | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UPDATE: Announcing Project YA Editorial Extension

c803b-1467335318709

Rachelle and I are extending the Project YA Editorial contest! The new deadline will be Sunday, Oct. 30, so be sure to get your short stories around. The theme is still Follow the White Rabbit, and we want stories featuring a tattoo, or tattoos, as an integral part to the overall plot. She and I will then be combing through the entries up until Sunday, Nov. 20, when we will announce the top five finalists.

Young writers don’t miss this chance to win in-depth assessment of your writing and free professional editing services. Additionally, we will be awarding a super helpful book, The Emotion Thesaurus, to the grand prize winner. The grand prize winner will be chosen Sunday, Dec. 18, and their story will be featured on both this site and Rachelle’s.

For more information, visit http://rachellemnshaw.com/project-ya-editorial/.

Categories: Writing Events | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: